Sunday, August 31, 2014

Organizing Car Toys

At this point in the year there's a ton of great organizational items in the stores primarily aimed at college kids headed off to dorm rooms and kids headed back to school. But even though those items are meant for different places, they can have a variety of uses in our everyday lives too.

Organizing Car Toys

Lately I've been trying to organize the car. We like to keep a wide range of activities and books in the car for the kids, but often it feels like they take over the whole car and everything is really cluttered. It lead us to think about some new ideas for organization.

I've tried different containers before to contain the clutter, but our recent attempt seems to be the best yet: using a shower caddy! The small compartments are perfect for holding different objects and it fits evenly between the two car seats. 

We purchased our bin at Wal-Mart, it's made by Sterlite and cost about $3.50 at the time. It came in four different colors. Big Brother picked the blue first. 

Inside the bin there are five compartments. In the back compartment we have space for different coloring and activity books. 

In the front bin we hold small picture books and a few board books. 

In the larger side compartment we have a few toys primarily for Little Brother; a small etch-a-sketch, flashing ball, toy cars, and something that makes noise (either a phone, car, musical instrument, etc.)

On the other side of the bin there are two small compartments which are perfect for holding crayons and markers for Big Brother. 

We still keep a few larger picture books and activity books in the pockets on the back of the seat. I also keep at least one small stuffed animal in the car, as you never no when someone might need a little cuddle from something.

Both the kids and I are pretty excited about how organized their stuff is now. Me because it was no longer all over the car and the boys, Big Brother especially, because they could now see what stuff they actually have in the car. We went back a few weeks later for another one to create a similar set up for Daddy's car. When we were there, Big Brother asked for a third to organize the art supplies he wants to keep in his room. He created this set up when I was at work when one day all on his own, pretty great huh? 

What is your favorite "back to school" item for organizing household or car stuff? If you're a blogger, I'd love to see your link in the comments below. 

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Dot Sticker Coordinates (with free printable)

Big Brother has been interested in board games for quite a while, and it's been really fun to explore different games with him. Lately he's wanted to try playing the game Battleship, but we're still finding it hard to modify that game for him to really be able to play. (It's really meant for older children.)

In the meantime, I created this Dot Sticker game which helps practice reading and using coordinates so he can work towards playing the game and also practice this math and science skill.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pipe Cleaner Color Sort

One of my goals for this fall is to create more purposeful learning opportunities for Little Brother.

As he gets older we have more skills and concepts to explore. Although we've done activities which involve "dropping" or "pushing" objects into containers, this was the first time I've added a sorting element for Little Brother. Although I knew he was a little young, I wanted this to be an activity he could grow with, so I made it a two color sorting activity.

I was inspired to use pipe cleaners and spice containers together from a toddler activity post over at Teaching Mama. (She used a parmesan container, but it looked a lot like our spice containers.) 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Five Senses Walk (with free printable)

This month's Virtual Book Club for Kids author is Aliki, who has such an amazing collection of books to chose from. We decided to use the book My Five Senses. This book and activity is one I've loved combining over the years. Recently we read the book and did the activity at the preschool nature camp I ran, so we were excited to do it again.

Five Senses Walk

In a clear, easy to understand way Aliki introduces kids to each of the five senses and gives examples of how we use them. Kids connect to the illustrations and how the examples fit their everyday lives. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Beading With 5 Household Objects

We enjoy beading here. I've loved it since I was a kid, and enjoyed passing on the activity to Big Brother. But not only can we create "beautiful" necklaces and bracelets, it's also a great way to develop fine motor skills.

I've mentioned fine motor skills before; they are small movements made by the smaller muscles in our bodies (like those you find in fingers and toes for example.) Helping kids to develop fine motor skills are important because they need to be able to use these muscles for important everyday activities (like zipping a coat) and academic skills (like writing with a pencil or cutting out a picture.) 

Beading is a great way to work on developing fine motor skills, as it's using repetitive small muscles, it's fun, and you create a finished product (which kids always love.) But you don't always have to use beads, there's plenty of household objects you can use. 

Switching up the object adds variety and interest for kids, but also means they're learning how to hold onto different types of objects. Here are 5 of our favorite household objects you can use below.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Quick Pick and Project of the Week: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Bath

It's been a while since we posted a Quick Pick and Project of the Week, and this is one I've wanted to try for a while now.

Several years ago I read in a parenting magazine (unfortunately I don't remember which one) that you can use craft foam to create your own wall sticker bath toys. We've done it a couple times now over the past few years to create different shapes and themes. 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Bath


This idea, combined with the purchase a while ago of some bath tub letters, inspired me to create a "coconut" tree for the bath tub to go along with the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin. This book has such a great rhyme and rhythm and gives everyone a fun way to practice saying all the letters in the alphabet. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Easy Blueberry Cobbler

There are a lot of different recipes and opinions out there for how to make a cobbler. Do you put the fruit on the bottom and add the batter on top? Or do you make the batter for the bottom and put the fruit on top? And although we've tried many of them, this quickly became our new favorite go to recipe this summer when we have fresh berries (or cherries) in the house and we want a warm, cobbler treat.

It's fresh blueberry season, which is one of our favorite times of year! We love baking with blueberries,freezing  them for the winter, and of course eat them just in their natural, yummy state. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Cucumber Boat Investigation

I hadn't actually planned on creating this as a post, but set this out one day during our Pirate Week as an extra activity. The kids had so much fun with it, and it sparked such great inventive thinking, that I couldn't resist putting it together as a post.

It's cucumber and zucchini season here in New England, and as often can happen, the crops are producing quite a lot of veggies! For the last two weeks we've been able to take as many of both veggies as we want from our CSA, and we've been using quite a lot of them in the kitchen. But we did have some extra around and it seemed like it would be great for building cucumber pirate ships.